Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A tale of two romances

*Just wanted to note that I, MrsDarwin, wrote this, although it's labeled as a Darwin post. Such are the dangers of sharing a computer...*

Following some recent recommendations, last week I ventured out to the library to find two novel: something by Georgette Heyer, and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I vainly scoured the fiction shelves for anything by these authors. Sure enough, I had to set foot in the romance aisle to procure either book. But I checked them out, and I read them, and I emerge from the experience to give you, dear reader, the benefit of my labors.

Julie D. has been praising Georgette Heyer, writer of romances about the ton and the beau monde. I know that I can usually trust Julie's book recommendations, and I did enjoy the Heyer novel I plucked off the shelf. It was pleasant and fluffy and light and charming. I've heard Heyer compared to Austen, but I'm not buying it. Austen is a master writer and stylist whose keen observations of human foibles are still as sharp now as when her books were first published. Heyer is fun and sweet, but she's no Austen. Still, I didn't feel like I'd wasted two hours of my life, so take that for what you will.

In the comments on our recent post about library building, I disparaged sleazo romances, and a commenter asked if Outlander by Diana Gabaldon fit that bill. After reading it, let me say: Um, hell, yeah. It started off as a readable enough yarn about a nurse who travels in time back to 1740s Scotland and falls in with a handsome fellow with a fetching accent and a back full of scars. But wait! Circumstances force them to marry! But she has a husband in the 20th century! But he doesn't exist yet! But the Scottish guy is sooo handsome and lusty! What will she do? Meanwhile there's a sadistic English captain whose sole aim in life is to make life grotesquely miserable for Scottish dude and anyone connected with him. About the time the Scotman spanked his wife I began to get the uncomfortable feeling that I was reading a fetish novel; this suspicion was only strengthed by the numerous violent encounters of the hero and heroine, not all of which were sexual in nature.

Frankly, this novel is designed to pander to the take-me-roughly fantasies of bored housewives and lonely female grad students. And allow me to toss out a spoiler and state that a sop of Catholicism tossed to the conscience of the more conservative reader is no salve for having to endure a nauseating incident of homosexual torture and rape. I didn't just want to take a shower after reading Outlander, I wanted to soak in bleach and have my memory wiped.

In the future, if I want to read Scottish history, I'll find a book dealing specifically with that. If I want sex, I'll find my husband, who, despite not being a Scottish dude from the 18th century, has the benefit of not being a fictional character. If I want a beating, I'll check myself into a mental hospital. What I'll never do again is touch one of Gabaldon's books again; no, verily, not even with the proverbial ten-foot pole.

8 comments:

Julie D. said...

I'm curious as to which Heyer book you read ... I suppose the comparisons with Austen which I am guilty of are that she is the closest thing in style. Also Heyer's later books, especially something like A Civil Contract. However ... at least it isn't Outlander, which made me want to dip my brain in bleach ...

barbfromcincy said...

I think you need to change that to being posted by MRS Darwin....hehe...
I'll make sure to stay far away from that book...
Hope you're having a blessed day!

mrsdarwin said...

Julie,

Actually, you're not the only I've heard compare Heyer to Austen (Darwin also used Austen as a descriptor). I don't think it's wholly inaccurate, but it does upsell Heyer a bit. The book I read was Charity Girl -- cute but a bit predictable. I'll look for A Civil Contract next time I go to the library.

Oh, you've read Outlander too? We can retch together. Next time I have doubts about a book, I'm just going to contact you and get the Julie OK first. :)

Barb -- Oops.

Darwin said...

Dang it, woman. Are he usin' my computer agin? Donna make me put on mi kilt and come beat ye!

Anna said...

'The Spanish Bride' by Georgette Heyer is also a good read. It is my favorite of her books.

Anna

Jay Anderson said...

Hey Darwin,

Do yourself a favor and get yourself a kilt. Seriously, man. Sarah definitely approves of mine.

;-)

Donald R. McClarey said...

"I wanted to soak in bleach and have my memory wiped."

Exactly my reaction at age 12 when I made my way through Atlas Shrugged.

Sherry said...

Oh, it's nice to find someone who shares my opinion about the Outlander books. I've only read the first, and it was more than enough. I have friends who love it for it's Scottish setting and for how the series incorporates history, but I just cannot take the perverted sex in it. And yet Galbadron has an incredible following. I once read on the Outlander board a controversy one woman started by announcing that she had allowed her 12yo dd to read the first book! I shudder to think of it.